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Four Candidates In The Race For Wichita City Council District 1; Where Do They Stand?

Carla Eckels
From left, City Council District 1 candidates Brandon Johnson, Mike Kinard, John Stevens and Janet Wilson participate in a forum moderated by state Rep. Gail Finney, right.

More than 100 people attended a political forum coordinated by the Voter Empowerment Committee at Wichita’s St. Paul AME Church earlier this month. The forum was a chance for voters to hear from all four candidates in the race for Wichita City Council District 1, which includes mostly northeast Wichita but also stretches to areas near Century II, north to Heights High School and south to the Cox Communications building.

See a map of the district here.

The candidates--Brandon Johnson, Mike Kinard, John Stevens and Janet Wilson--are running for the seat currently held by current councilwoman Lavonta Williams, who is finishing out her final term this year. The 1st District race is the only City Council race to have enough candidates to trigger a primary election; the top two vote-getters will be on the general election ballot in November. (Also on the ballot in the general election will be District 3 City Councilman James Clendenin and challenger William Stofer, and District 6 candidates Cindy Claycomb and Sybil Strum.)

Credit Nadya Faulx / KMUW

At the forum the four candidates discussed their views on a variety of topics, including how they would direct city government funds and other resources to their district. Read how the candidates answered below, and hear Carla Eckels' full story at the link above:

Brandon Johnson, community activist: "First, it’s talking with other council members about what’s going on in our district. There are some similarities in Districts 1, 3, 4 and 6. So to me, it’s building that coalition amongst council members about how do we address the issues that affect us.

If we got areas that are impoverished and we are not doing anything there, we need to address it as a coalition of council members, then we have a majority vote to address those issues and finally put the attention back on neighborhoods. I think that resonates throughout the city, not just District 1."

Mike Kinard, photo business owner and former Wichita School Board member: "I remember when 17th Street had the pot holes. I remember when 13th street didn't have the five lanes, and 21st Street improvements, the Innovation Campus infrastructure. So there has been money pumped into our district, but there needs to be more. There's still more work to do.

"And speaking of the innovation campus, we can't simply allow them to put that campus over there and not address the job issue. If they're going to put those jobs in our community they need to look at us to hire us for those jobs. So it is those type of things that we must address and hold all our council and hold our community partners accountable."

Watch the candidates respond to the question (story continues after video):

John Stevens, president of the Wichita Pachyderm Club: "McAdams Park, Edgemoor Park, Naftzger Park…these are projects that need funding. We should have rebuilt Edgemoor Park years ago. I was still on the park board when that thing was losing a foot and a half of water a day. [Former park director Doug Kupper had to shut it down. But we agreed to rebuild it in a year. We didn’t have the money that year. Where’d that money go? It’s downtown. Folks, it's downtown."

Janet Wilson, community activist: "You all know until we got Lavonta [Williams] as councilwoman and Carl Brewer as our mayor, District 1 was always being underfunded, underdeveloped and unkept. You have to fight. Just like when you were down there ... fighting for the [McAdams] pool, you have to be down there to hold them accountable every time that budget comes up.

"I learned about the budget. I know how to do ROIs [Return On Investment], ROEs, return on equity, and return on investment, interest and accounting. That’s what I went to school for. The thing you have to look at is sometimes you have to partner with other neighborhoods, other districts, in order to get your project through. I am the person that can do that because I know exactly where the money is and I know who to go to get it from."

Registered voters can take advantage of early voting through July 31. The primary election is on Tuesday, Aug. 1. Haysville City Council Ward 4 and Park City Ward 3 will also have primaries.